Amongst its many renowned cultural events, Manila counts the San Fernando Giant Lantern Parade as one of the most fervently celebrated.
A yearly event conducted in December, the parade is held on the Saturday preceding Christmas Eve in the town of San Fernando. The festival revolves around a contest of huge lanterns and its popularity has given the town the nickname of 'The Philippines' Christmas Capital'.
The initial edition of the lantern festival was conducted to honour President Manuel Quezon. The President chose the nearby Arayat as his holiday destination and transformed Mount Arayat into a premier resort for tourists. To demonstrate their gratitude to the President, the residents of San Fernando conducted a Christmas lantern competition in honour of the first family.
Over the years the Lantern Festival has become ever more colourful and extravagant, attracting vast crowds from around the country. The massive lanterns are silhouetted against the evening sky while the exquisite colours and amazing geometric patterns pulsate, whirl and flash, producing a mesmeric effect.
Today many entrants are computerised and exploit advanced technology and some of the largest lanterns are up to 40 feet (12m) high.